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  (Source: LucasFilm)
"Always with you, what cannot be done"

Most would agree that U.S. President Barack Obama's goal of having 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 is ambitious.  But with the first modern electric vehicles like the 2011 Chevy Volt and 2011 Nissan LEAF EV selling out their low-volume of pre-orders, and with competitors like Ford and Tesla Motor Company waiting in the wings with upcoming offerings, it seems possible.

However, a panel of government, industry, and academic experts opines that despite that optimism, the goal is likely impossible to be reached without major changes.  The panel was held at Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs in Bloomington Indiana. 

The panel's report is entitled "Plug–In Electric Vehicles: A Practical Plan for Progress" [PDF].

John D. Graham, Dean of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU sums up the report's sentiments, stating [press release], "President Obama’s dream is appealing and it may be achievable, but there are big barriers to overcome before the mass commercialization of electric vehicles will occur."

To put things in perspective, at expected 2015 volumes, 1 million electric vehicles would likely be around 0.4 percent of the vehicles on American streets, at most.

Some environmental groups were quick to attack the report.  Roland Hwang a San Francisco-based blogger [blog] with the National Resources Defense Council's Transportation Program is cited by The Detroit News as stating that the figure is feasible.

Whether or not environmentalists like Mr. Hwang realize it, the report is likely less of an effort to knock EVs, but more of an effort to appeal to the government and public for more funding.  That is evident by the fact that the panel responsible for the report contained representatives from Ford (who is preparing an EV), from the Center for Automotive Research (an industry group whose reports have argued that the government needs to provide greater funding to meet fuel efficiency targets), and the International Council on Clean Transportation (a global warming advocacy group).

Many of the panel's members seem designed towards this end; take the panel's chairman, former Ford Motor Company executive Gurminder Bedi comment -- "A successful national program for electric vehicles will require an unusual degree of cooperation between industry and government, and a clear focus on the needs and concerns of consumers."

The report does offer some seemingly accurate insight into some of the critical problems/challenges facing EVs -- namely high costs and the question of consumer confidence (resale value/reliability).

Regardless of the accuracy of the pressing need for more government funding of EVs, these groups are walking a dangerous tightrope.  As the saying goes "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" and if they don't lobby, they will likely miss out on a promising business opportunity.  On the other hand, if they lobby too hard, they risk alienating the U.S. public and facing backlash from the U.S government.

The report comes at an opportune time, when President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are trying to push a new EV incentives bill through U.S. Congress, which would, among other things, change the $7,500 tax credit to an instant refund and expand the quota of EV refunds per automaker.  The bill, sponsored by Michigan Senator Carl Levin (D) would cost taxpayers $19B USD over 10 years.

In that regard, what on the surface might appear a report running counter to the Obama administration's vision, is likely a calculated effort on the administration and auto industry's behalf to try to sell the need for more funding for "green vehicles" to members of Congress and to the public.

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RE: Okay here we go...
By The Raven on 2/4/2011 2:52:26 PM , Rating: 2
You didn't merely ask a question...
Not to be a provocateur (and take the business away from Jason,) but isn't the deregulation of the financial industry, or the "free-marketization" of it, the very thing that led to its collapse? It wasn't the government getting involved, as you assert, it was the government getting un-involved that was the problem there.

You asked a question and then answered it yourself.

No, you are not simply an idiot for following the advice of the people that you elect. You are an idiot for voting for someone who thinks you are an idiot who can't make your own decisions. (And Republicans have this elitist outlook as well, mind you.) And I say that assuming that you think these sort of subsidies are a good thing.

I didn't say that the US gov't regulates ISP choice, etc. I was saying that I take it you think the world would be a better place if they did.

The rest of my rant translated for people who think EV subsidies are a good idea:
I shouldn't be making decisions about "your" transportation.
I shouldn't elect people who make laws that make you choose to do certain things with your money when it comes to transportation.
I also wouldn't like "my" money taken to encourage people to live so far away from their work places...
Homeownership subsidies + EV subsidies...
...or to encourage people to use coal powered cars.
Electric cars.
Wait, have I said too much? It is so hard to tell these days now that the gov't got un-involved with speech regulation.
See 1st amendment.

As for your examples of good gov't intervention (which BTW I am not totally against):
Gov't controls on lending? We need those? If I (or a bank) lend money to someone who probably won't be able to pay it back, then I shouldn't be expecting to get it back, right? It is it's own control. What problem I think you are referring to is that the gov't (in an effort by politicians to buy votes from consumers and housing industry lobbyists) promised to back all of those loans that banks gave out so that people could buy houses that they normally wouldn't be able to afford. Natural control removed by gov't. Inevitable chaos.

I wasn't around for the whole leaded gas thing, but from what I know people became aware of the ill effects of the lead and voted to put limits on it and eventually ban it in 1996.

As with everything it seems, the majority of people became aware that something is bad/good and then they make it law
that everyone follow suit. Well if that were the case, then why would we need a law since everyone has determined that something is bad or good already. If you can convince me that buying an electric vehicle is good then why would we need a subsidy that essentially makes my decision for me?

I mean is it better to inform people of why you think a certain way or is it better to force them to live in line with your beliefs? I'd rather convince people, because I am not always right.

Personally, I buy "organic" when possible because I believe that it is good for me and the environment. I believe that so much (based on reasearch that I have done) that I pay extra when I shop. It may turn out to be a waste of money (same with EVs), but at least it is a waste of my money.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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